Valerian Characteristics: Scientifically called the Valeriana genus, dozens of species and varieties exist in this genus. The most common one, Valeriana officinalis, is often referred to as Valerian.
Other species include Valeriana Celtica (valerian spikenard), Valeriana dioica (marsh Valerian), Valeriana fauriei (Korean Valerian), Valeriana sitchensis (Sitka Valerian), and more.
Though they may differ in appearance and morphology, most share the same Valerian growing conditions.
This herbaceous perennial grows up to 5 feet tall and blooms in early summer or June to July. Since the 17th century, people have harvested this plant to make herbal remedies and decorations.
The flowers have a sweet scent of vanilla and clove mix, and the roots have sedative properties. The flower colors are red, white, and pale pink. Both roots and leaves are aromatic.
Every leaf has 7-10 pairs of toothed, odd-pinnate, and lance-shaped leaflets.
Preparing the ideal Valerian growing conditions
Valerian can be grown indoors or outdoors. Naturally, this plant thrives in rich and moist loam and grows well in well-drained, medium to wet soil.
It loves direct full sun, and some shades can still be tolerated. Other ideal Valerian growing conditions include light-but-consistent water and normal greenhouse temperature.
For the soil pH, it can grow well in almost all soil pHs, excluding the extreme ones.
Those conditions also apply to indoor growing media. Choose a container with sufficient holes to be well-drained. Place it near windows and water the soil a little but routine.
Whether indoor or outdoor, to grow a Valerian in its ideal conditions, you should at least prepare proper soil, ample water, and enough sunlight.
How to grow Valerian
Valerian can be propagated through root divisions or seeds. The best time to divide the root in spring or fall before its dormant time, which is winter.
After pulling out a Valerian root ball, remove the excess soil. Divide the ball into smaller parts as desired. Clean the tuberous roots using a knife or your hands.
Plant the cut parts in the prepared Valerian growing conditions and media. Each planted part should be 12-24 inches away with a similar depth. Water them frequently as moist soil enhance the growth of new roots.
For seeds, they need to be sowed in moist soil mix for 3/8” with 18-20 degrees Celcius. It takes 7-21 days to germinate. Once it reaches 5-6”, it is ready to transplant into the ground.
If you want to plant the seed directly, you can plant them in the ground for 3/8-1/2” depth with a 12-18” distance.
Tips for maintaining the ideal Valerian growing conditions
- Water the soil regularly. As Valerian prefers moist soil, you can put your fingers in the ground and feel whether it is dry or moist. Remember, plants love moist and not wet soil.
- In nature, this plant is quite invasive. Hence after a few years, you should propagate or divide new plants into a place within the stated distance above.
- To enhance the ideal Valerian growing conditions, adding fertilizer is also necessary. You can use the standard NPK fertilizer or the Nitrogen rich one. During germination or after the newly-planted root division, you can also use a fertilizer rich in Phosphorus because Phosphor is good for root growth.
- Pruning can also help to maintain the conditions. The dying parts of the plant release chemicals that affect other healthy parts. Hence removing the dried and dying parts should be done.
Ways to keep pests and disease off the ideal Valerian growing conditions
Though this plant resists many pests and diseases, root rot is the most common one that causes the plant to die. The main cause is the not-so-well-drained soil.
Hence providing good drainage and watering adequately is a must. Then, aphids usually attack during the bad Valerian growing conditions.
Regular checking can prevent the pests before they regenerate more. As the solution, spraying a blast of water and insecticide solution is enough.
Lastly, mildew infection might also happen, even though it is rare. It only attacks the over-fertilized and dense crowd of Valerians.
A mixture of water and milk is enough to fight the mildew infection. Other ways to prevent pests and diseases are by choosing the right location (not too dry nor too humid), fertilizing with the right amount, protecting the container during winter, and providing a permeable substrate.
Benefits of having proper Valerian growing conditions
A Valerian usually takes two years to grow into an 18” wide clump and 3-5’ high. By maintaining the right Valerian growing conditions since the germination or root division planting, you can grow and harvest the plant faster than the average time.
Its roots can be used as medicine to help people fall asleep or as spices to flavor stews and soups. The new fine leaves can go into salad just like lamb’s lettuce.
The flowers can be cut and put into a jar of water as an aromatic ornament. Some also make tea of the flowers.